On the morning of the Sunday 27th September 2020, TYO UK gathered in 3 different locations across London (Mitcham, Harrow and Ilford) for an organised food drive in the name of Lt. Col. Thileepan anna. To remember his role in the struggle and the sacrifice “Thiyaga Theepam”, sacrificial light, Thileepan committed to by holding a hunger strike until death, a peaceful resistance.
Lt. Col. Thileepan was one of the political wing leaders of the LTTE who fasted to death in 1987 to protest against the Sri Lankan government and to ask for help by the Indian government to meet demands which would benefit the Tamil people. He died on the 26th of September after starting his
hunger strike on the 15th of September going 11 days without food and water.
Just as he had his life set up to be a medical student at the university of Jaffna, Thileepan’s goals took a swift turn after encountering the atrocities of Black July 1983. It was during this time he gave up his chances of having a secured successful future for himself and instead decided to work
towards a bright and successful future for the Tamil nation as a whole by joining the liberation movement.
After taking on the political duties, in 1985, Lt. Col, Thileepan was assigned as the Political wing leader of LTTE in Jaffna. In 1987, the Indo-Lanka Accord was signed by the Indian and Sri Lankan government, an agreement that caused great apprehension amongst the Tamils.
As suspected, both governments still regarded the Tamils as second class citizens that had to endure continuous injustice. Our well respected Thileepan took matters into his own hands and laid out five
demands to be met by the Indian government:
• All Tamil political prisoners detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act should be released
• The colonisation of the Tamil homeland by the Sri Lankan state under the guise of rehabilitation should be stopped
• All such rehabilitation should be stopped until an interim government is formed.
• The Sri Lankan government should stop opening new Police stations in the Tamil homeland
• The Sri Lankan government should disarm and withdraw ‘homeguards’ paramilitary from the Tamil homeland. The Indian government’s neglection of, and failure to meet these demands, would mean a slow and tormenting cause of death, a desperate sacrifice.
On 15th September 1987 Lt. Col Thileepan started his hunger strike in Nallur to bring about equality to his people. He suffered the phases of starvation till eventually, on the 12th day, he came face to face with death and passed away. However, 33 years on, Lt. Col. Thileepan’s demands are yet to be realised. The continuing Sinhalisation and extensive (and rapid) of the North and East by the Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinistic genocidal
government, highlights the importance of Thileepan’s demands today.
In order to remember Lt. Col. Thileepan’s noble sacrifice, we organised a food drive, to donate to the Trussel Trust food bank. We thought this was an appropriate thing to do since it links to the solemn occasion and enables us to help the wider community and simultaneously raise awareness. This is
especially important during the difficult times of the pandemic where many overseas students are turning to food banks due to deprivation of finances and the homeless.